Pin It
Favorite

'Imperial Bedrooms,' Bret Easton Ellis 

Bret Easton Ellis has written a satire. Either that, or he’s just sick.

click to enlarge art15484.jpg

Bret Easton Ellis is a satirist. I know this because that’s how he refers to himself. It’s good to keep repeating that to yourself as you read his books. It’s easy to mistake them for snuff-film novelizations.

His satirical characters apparently represent some kind of darkness, with Ellis bringing them to light because we light-dwellers need to be aware of their existence and casual nihilism and sociopathy. It’s not a wink, exactly. There’s no winking going on in American Psycho, which is why the book was so bluntly appealing. It’s something subtler and almost invisible. Which is why it’s good to keep reminding yourself, it’s a satire.

As Clay — the protagonist from Ellis’ 1985 novel Less than Zero and here again, 25 years later — lures a woman into an affair that gradually becomes outright rape: It’s a satire. As he jets off with two young prostitutes to soothe his broken heart (the girl he rapes doesn’t like him anymore) then loads them with drugs, locks them in a room and makes them torture each other: It’s a satire. It’s a satire.

At 170-ish pages and 14-ish point type, Imperial Bedrooms is called a novel but feels like a novella, both in length and lack of narrative roundness. The book is narrated in Ellis’ trademark style — frank, emotionless depictions of depravity and brutality — taken to an extreme that I’m not sure he’s managed before. (I’ve read several of his books, but not all.) None of the characters change, because perhaps Hollywood will never change. Clay is a screenwriter, and he’s the way he is because … well, who knows? He doesn’t even know.

There’s nothing to say here, because there’s very little being said. At the outset, though, Ellis allows Clay to mock the novel that was written about him 25 years ago (presumably Ellis’ own), and the subsequent (actual) movie, which moralized Ellis’ deliberately amoral book.

Imperial Bedrooms concludes with the line: “I never liked anyone and I’m afraid of people.” It’s a nice way to characterize Clay, but it also sums up Bret Easton Ellis pretty well too.

  • Pin It

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Mind Games
  • Mind Games

    The Inland Northwest is home to a sizable and highly competitive community of Magic: The Gathering players
    • Feb 25, 2015
  • Kennel Club Cribs
  • Kennel Club Cribs

    What it's like to spend a night in the cold just to get a good seat for the Zags game
    • Feb 25, 2015
  • Mosey On In, You're Part of History
  • Mosey On In, You're Part of History

    Distilled: A shot of life
    • Feb 25, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Jacqui Banaszynski

Jacqui Banaszynski @ University of Idaho

Thu., March 5, 4:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Luke Baumgarten

  • Chasing Whales
  • Chasing Whales

    Let's focus less on courting big companies and focus more on nurturing big ideas
    • Feb 5, 2015
  • Completely Repellent
  • Completely Repellent

    How can we expect people to find constructive uses for space that wasn't built for them?
    • Dec 30, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Trapped by Debt

    Reflecting on the financial — and emotional — toll of student loans
    • Feb 11, 2015
  • The Food Guru

    The timing couldn't be better for food expert Alton Brown to check out Spokane's dining scene
    • Feb 25, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation